Call it street for scandal. This was not only a social distancing violation in Silk City, but an actual bring out the bats episode two days before the vote-by-mail deadline in the Tuesday, May 12th election.
Running for a Ward 2 seat in one of the most competitive ward elections in Paterson, former Councilman Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman says three men affiliated with his rival’s campaign beat him up on Sunday, while his incredulous rival, Councilman Shahin Khalique, says Akhtaruzzaman instigated the violent street collision.
A man running toward the camera with a stick, pictured above, is an Akhtaruzzaman backer, according to an eyewitness, proof that the former councilman’s own forces contributed to the mayhem and were, they said, the perpetrators.
In his recollected version of the event, Akhtaruzzaman says he was standing on a street corner when a
vehicle approached him.
He says Councilman Khalique was in contact with his alleged assailants when a bat appeared.
“He sent three guys,” Akhtaruzzaman said. “One guy hit me with a stick. He was on the one with Khalique.
They broke the candidate’s glasses, he said.
The police came and he’s filing charges, he said.
“This is an election,” said Akhtaruzzaman. “This is not a fighting war.”
Khalique says his rival’s version of the collision is a pure and desperate fabrication.
“This is nothing but a lie,” the councilman told InsiderNJ, responding to is rival’s Facebook account of the incident. “A young kid went there to distribute [literature]. An out of state van, his supporter, came up from behind. That kid called me. They attacked my volunteer. Mohammed is in the van blocking him. …It’s nothing but a lie. He knows he’s losing. He’s trying to create a distraction. His people, they’re the ones, creating trouble.”
Council President Maritza Davila, a Khalique backer, witnessed the Bengali- American versus Bengali-American fracas.
She said Akhtaruzzaman’s people did indeed spark the episode.
Paterson Police officers were also on the scene.
“I’m saddened by it because at one time I was an Akhtaruzzaman supporter,” said Davila, sticking by Khalique.
There is a third candidate in the contest: Frank Filippelli.